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The Best New Cookbooks and Food-Related Books of 2019

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What are the best food-related books of 2019? The year was a particularly strong one for writing about food and drink, so we went straight to our resident expert, Food Editor Nicole Douillet, for her top picks. Here’s her list of the best cookbooks, drink books, writing about food and chef memoirs of 2019.

Maybe it’s the season, but lately here at Dandelion Chandelier, we’ve been obsessed with food and drink. We’ve assessed the best films about food and drink; and the most famous and provocative works of art about food and feasting.

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Now we turn our attention to the best books about food and drink this year. Any one of these would make for a great December read. Or the perfect gift for the foodie or wine connoisseur in your life.

Here are the top picks from our Food Editor Nicole Douillet – the best of the year, and some Honorable Mentions, too. Happy reading!

The best food-related books - cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs - of 2019
The best food-related books – cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs – of 2019

the best food-related books of 2019

1. Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi, with Joshua David Stein

Notes from a Young Black Chef is a coming of age memoir by the Bronx-born Kwame Onwauchi, winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. In one of the best chef memoirs of 2019, Onwauchi tells a very candid and open story of moving from the Bronx to live with his grandmother in Nigeria to “learn respect.” And how, when he returned, he fell into the easy money of the streets before he found a way out through cooking.

He began cooking on a Deepwater Horizon cleanup ship but went on to work in some of the most revered restaurant kitchens in the country. This is where he saw firsthand the difficulties faced by people of color working in the fine dining industry, and where he developed his dream of opening a fine dining restaurant.

That dream was realized and ultimately shattered when his restaurant closed within months of opening. Onwauchi went on to compete on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and garner critical accolades as he continued to hone his multi-cultural culinary style. This is a story of overcoming adversity and finding oneself through cooking.

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2. Anthony Bourdain Remembered by CNN

This beautiful tribute to Anthony Bourdain’s memory compiles quotes from the inimitable Bourdain, as well as memories and anecdotes from his fans and closest friends.

After Bourdain’s death in June 2018, fans from around the world poured out their hearts in mourning. They were grieving the loss of Bourdain. And the loss of a passionate advocate of his view that the world is smaller than you think; that people everywhere are striving for the same things; and that you can learn so much about a different culture through it’s food.

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3. The Truffle Underground by Ryan Jacobs

In  The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus, Ryan Jacobs, an investigative reporter for publications such as The Atlantic, shines a light on the ruthlessness of the truffle business.

Most of us only know truffles as those magical funghi shaved onto luscious pasta or risotto in the fall months. But behind the scenes, the truffle business is one where truffle farmers patrol their land with shotguns, worried about thieves and spies. Or, they worry about their prized truffle-hunting dogs or pigs being poisoned by rivals to take them out of the game. This is a well-written true tale of the truffle business. It will make you think a little more the next time you spend $75 to have your risotto showered with 10 grams of white truffle shavings.

the best cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs of 2019
The best food-related books – cookbooks, drink books, writing about food and chef memoirs – of 2019.

4. American Sfoglino by Evan Funke with Katie Parla

Acclaimed chef of L.A.’s Felix Trattoria, Evan Funke, has written a brilliant book that teaches the keys to making perfect pasta at home.

Not only does he cover 15 classic pasta shapes ranging from pappardelle to tortelloni, all starting from sfoglia (sheet pasta), he also includes recipes for beautiful sauces and quintessential Italian dishes like Lasagna Verde alla Bolognese. Funke rounds out the book with tales from Italy and the kitchen at Felix Trattoria, plus gorgeous photos that will make you want to bust out the flour and eggs.

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5. Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin

Toni Tipton-Martin has made a career of intertwining food and history. She has enlightened generations about the depth of African-American cooking and shown how much of what we consider “American” cuisine has its roots in African-American history.

In Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking, she shares over 100 recipes and the history that goes with them. She highlights classics like Sweet Potato Biscuits, but also dives deeper into more rare recipes like Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne and Bourbon and Apple Hot Toddies. Like her other tomes, this book is a treasure.

6. Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine by Maangchi with Martha Rose Shulman

You may already be familiar with Maangchi from her YouTube channel where she has nearly 4 million subscribers. She launched the channel in 2007 because she felt that recipes for Korean dishes in the US had errors and lost key points in translation.

Since then, she has become the go-to for home cooks wanting to recreate their favorite Korean dishes. The New York Times has dubbed her “YouTube’s Korean Julia Child” and called Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking “the definitive book on Korean cuisine.”

The best food-related books – cookbooks, drink books, and chef memoirs – of 2019.

7. Mixtape Potluck: A Cookbook by Questlove

We’ve known for a while that Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) is into food. The Roots drummer and founder opened Hybrid, a fried chicken outpost, in Chelsea market in 2013 and then went on to host “Food Salons” where he invited chefs to cook for high profile guests.

However, in his newest book, Mixtape Potluck: A Cookbook the tables are turned and he asks high profile people (Zooey Deschanel, Lily Singh, Natalie Portman to name a few) to do the cooking. Questlove then shares his advice on throwing a party and creates a “mixtape” inspired by each of his guests’ recipes for home cooks to play while they prepare each dish.

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8. Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman

Alison Roman has done it again. Full stop. Within weeks of launching her newest cookbook, Nothing Fancy, it made the New York Times best-seller list. As she puts it, this book isn’t for entertaining – it’s “for having people over.” That’s a subtle, but important clarification.

In this book, Roman encourages the home cook to have people over and focus on the fun of that rather than the stress of trying to make everything perfect. She advocates embracing the imperfections and keeping things simple. This doesn’t mean boring food, though. You’ll find the same spicy, crunchy, salty, delicious food that you’ve come to expect from her. The only question is which dishes from this cookbook will become proper nouns. (#theStew, #theCookies)

9. Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from my Israeli Kitchen by Adeena Sussman

With a title like this, you know you’re in for a treat – in Hebrew, Sababa, translates to “everything is awesome.” And, as you dive into the recipes that Sussman is cooking in her Tel Aviv kitchen, you will long to join her on her daily trips through the stalls of Shuk Hacarmel, her local market.

This is where she finds inspiration for each of the 125 recipes she highlights in Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from my Israeli Kitchen. Sussman does an expert job of shepherding the reader through the uses of exotic ingredients like sumac, tahini, silian, harissa, and za’atar. You’ll be confidently cooking dishes like Shug Marinated Lamb Chops and Freekeh in no time.

The best cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs of 2019.
The best food-related books – cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs – of 2019.

10. From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

In Sicily, people say that every story starts with a marriage or a death. Tembi Locke’s book covers both. Locke tells the story of how she met Saro, a professional chef, on a street in Florence. It was love at first sight. However, Saro’s Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying an African-American woman or an actor…Locke is both.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home tells the tale of their marriage and adoption of a newborn baby girl, and their life in Los Angeles. Until Saro is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. After losing the love of her life, Locke decides to return to Sicily to spend three summers with her daughter, as she tries to make a life without Saro. In an unexpected turn, Locke finds solace at her mother-in-law’s table in the fresh, simple food that she cooks and the tightly knit community with all of its longstanding traditions. Keep tissues close by for this one, but it’s worth every tear.

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11. Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier

Food writer Jeff Gordinier was feeling stagnant in work life as well as his home life. As luck would have it, he met René Redzepi, the chef and owner of the three Michelin starred Copenhagen restaurant, Noma. Redzepi was also feeling stuck and had decided to close his restaurant to go in search of new inspiration and innovation.

In Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World,  Gordinier accompanies Redzepi on his adventure to find what’s next. It takes them from a search for the perfect taco in the Yucatan, to the depths of the Arctic Circle to find the most delicious sea urchin, and beyond. The book also recounts stories with some of Redzepi’s closest friends – David Chang, Danny Bowien, Enrique Olvera, and more. Every part of this story is engaging and exciting.

12. Burn the Place: A Memoir, Iliana Regan

Iliana Regan has had a connection to food and the earth where it grows since she was a small child. As a toddler, she understood to pick only the ripest raspberries on her family’s Indiana farm, and didn’t shy away from the wild chanterelle mushrooms that confused others.

Burn the Place is a memoir about growing up gay in an intolerant community, struggling through alcoholism, and finding a way to deal with the world through food. Regan found her passion and her true self through cooking and ended up in the top restaurant kitchens of Chicago before opening her own Michelin-starred restaurant. Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award, this is a raw and original story.

The best food-related books – cookbooks, drink books, writing about food and chef memoirs – of 2019.

13. Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Called “The Kitchen Confidential” of the big-ticket catering world by the New York Times, Hotbox exposes what really happens behind the “pipe and drape” (the velvet curtains that separate the guests from the staff at fancy affairs).

Brothers Matt and Ted Lee are food writers, cookbook authors, and former caterers of some of glitziest parties in the country. They recount having to build kitchens from scratch in large, empty warehouses. And how they improvised when something catastrophic happened (like when a rolling rack of 100 ice cream desserts tipped over). If you’re thirsty for some culinary drama, this will whet your whistle.

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14. Quick Cooking, Mary Berry

I don’t know about you, but I miss Mary Berry on The Great British Bake Off. Good news, though! She has a new show on BBC called Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking and she has written a cookbook to go along with it.

Quick Cooking includes over 100 recipes, all of which can be whipped within 20-30 minutes, or easily made ahead to throw in the oven later. This is a book that you can trust. Berry has written more than seventy cookbooks since her first one was published in 1970. This book traverses the globe, with recipes like Crumble Fish Pie, Lamb Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Dry-Roasted Chicken Tikka, Italian Galette, and Limoncello Trifle. If you’ve also missed Mary Berry, this will help.

15. The Gaijin Cookbook: Japanese Recipes from a Chef, Father, Eater, and Lifelong Outsiderby Ivan Orkin and Chris Young

If you’ve ever eaten at Ivan Ramen in New York City, you wouldn’t believe that chef Ivan Orkin is considered a gaijin (a Japanese term that means outsider). Orkin fell in love with Japanese food as a teenager growing up in Long Island, and ventured to Tokyo to learn the traditional techniques from the masters. Orkin is so skilled that he wound up running two acclaimed ramen shops in Tokyo. And yet, he still considers himself a gaijin.

The Gaijin Cookbook is an approachable, condensed version of everything he has learned while perfecting his craft of Japanese cooking. There are recipes for weeknight dinners that are quick and cater to the pickier palettes of kids. As well as ideas for hosting a make-your-own-temaki party where guests make their own sushi from cooked and raw ingredients. Orkin has you covered no matter where your night or weekend may take you.

The best cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs of 2019.
The best food-related books – cookbooks, drink books, writing about food and chef memoirs – of 2019.

16.  Tartine: A Classic Revisited by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson

The original cookbook from the famous San Francisco bakery, Tartine, became an instant classic. Professional pastry chefs have admitted using recipes from Tartine without alteration in their restaurants. Acclaimed chefs Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson are gifted bakers. And they have shown that they can simplify a recipe to the point where a professional chef will have the same finished product as a novice home cook.

Their new cookbook, Tartine: A Classic Revisited follows suit. It is a serious baking book, but the recipes work. So, what’s changed since their first cookbook hit shelves in 2006, you ask? Plenty. Over the last 13 years, people’s tastes have changed, perhaps shifting more savory than sweet. Or people’s tolerance of gluten has changed. Prueitt herself has given up gluten, so the book highlights alternative flours such as einkorn, and also includes more whole-grain recipes. The duo has done an excellent job of recreating a classic and in so doing, created a new classic.

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17. South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations by Sean Brock with Lucas Weir and Marion Sullivan

You may wonder what more chef Sean Brock could say about Southern cooking after his James Beard Foundation Award winning cookbook, Heritage. But, as he points out, “The American South has a geographical area roughly the equal to that of continental Europe.”

In his newest book, South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations, Brock highlights dishes from the Low Country to Appalachia and the historic ingredients that make them what they are, even if those ingredients have seemingly become extinct. The book also includes handy guides to frying, caring for cast iron, and cooking over a hearth, among others. If you enjoy the flavors of the South, this is the book for you.

18. The NoMad Cocktail Book by Leo Robitschek

When The NoMad Hotel and Restaurant opened in Manhattan in 2012, the hotel bar, run by cocktail genius Leo Robitschek, quickly became the hottest bar in the country.

Recognizing this, Robitschek and his partners, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm, capitalized on that success by opening a larger cocktail bar and gastropub connected to the original hotel bar in 2014. Since then, The NoMad Bar has continued to grow in both popularity and acclaim. In 2016, The NoMad restaurant published a cookbook, and tucked into the back of the book was a cocktail book for The NoMad bar written by Robitschek. His brilliance with the balance of ingredients was immediately clear (and not surprising to anyone who had tried his cocktails before).

Now, he has published a standalone volume, and it’s one of the best books about drink of 2019: the NoMad Cocktail Book. It features over two hundred recipes, along with tutorials on technique and instructions on making the necessary syrups and garnishes. This should be on your list for anyone who appreciates a well-made cocktail, from classic to whimsical.

The best food-related books – cookbooks, drink books, writing about food and chef memoirs – of 2019.

19. The Last Course by Claudia Fleming

James Beard Foundation Award winning chef Claudia Fleming, created what Bon Appetit called “the greatest dessert book in the history of the world” in 2001. The book featured 175 recipes from the amazing desserts that she had created for Gramercy Tavern during her tenure there.

The book became a chef’s cult classic for its creativity and imagination, but eventually went out of print. I just saw a copy of the original on eBay for $700. But, don’t fret! A beautiful new edition of the book has been released and is on store shelves now. If you have a baker on your holiday list, this is the perfect gift. One taste of the Buttermilk Tapioca and you will understand why this book is such a gem.

Honorable Mention: best books about food 2019

If you want even more ideas for great reads or great gifts from the realm of cookbooks, the best books about drink, chef memoirs and writing about food, here are our runners-up for the Best Food-related Books of 2019:

Honorable Mention for the best food-related books – cookbooks drink books and chef memoirs – of 2019.

the best food-related books of 2019

Those are our picks for Best Books about Food and Drink of 2019. What’s at the top of your list?

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter hereAnd see luxury in a new light.

Nicole Douillet is a Wall Street executive and lifelong lover of food and drink. She is currently the Food Editor of Dandelion Chandelier, and a senior advisor to several fintech companies. Nicole serves on the Advisory Council for Action Against Hunger | ACF International. She is a former junior Olympic skier, serial restaurant regular, and two-time chili cook-off champion. She lives with her wife and two little ones in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where her kids’ favorite neighborhood restaurant is Lilia. Nicole is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

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